Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

woman with abdominal pain

What specialists treat cyclic vomiting syndrome?

In addition to the patient's primary-care physician or pediatrician, gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in disorders of the digestive system) are usually consulted. In addition, critical-care specialists (adult or pediatric) may need to be consulted if complications (see section below) develop.

Are there home remedies for cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)? Can dietary changes help CVS?

Although home remedies have not been well studied, anecdotal reports suggest at least three remedies may help some patients. They are biofeedback to reduce stress, L-carnitine that helps turn fat into energy, and coenzyme Q10, a substance that aids mitochondrial dysfunction.

Reports of diets that help reduce the frequency of reoccurrence of CVS attacks include gluten-free diets, a Paleo diet (diet based on foods eaten by early humans such as fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit without dairy or green products), and GAPS diet (complicated diet plan designed for individuals with gastrointestinal immune problems). Parents and individuals should check with their physician before utilizing any of these home remedies or diets to avoid any potential side effects or deterioration in the child's or adult's condition.

What are the complications if cyclic vomiting syndrome is not treated?

If the condition is not treated, attacks typically occur four to 12 times per year. Between episodes, vomiting is absent, and nausea is either absent or much reduced. Many affected people experience other symptoms during and between episodes, including pain, digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, and fainting spells (syncope). In addition, complications of CVS can also include dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, damage to the esophagus, and tooth decay due to the acid in vomit. People with cyclic vomiting syndrome are also more likely than people without the disorder to experience depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. It is unclear how these health conditions are related to nausea and vomiting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/10/2016

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